How I’ve built the biggest database of public showers in Europe

This is my second project from “12 startups in 12 months” series.

After first project I learned that building project which depends on it’s users is not the way to go. At least when your initial user base equals to zero.

Instead, in this project I focused on providing immediate added value to every relevant user visiting my website.

What motivated me to create this odd app? Some people says that you should try to solve your own problem and maybe you’ll solve problem of others.

Back then, during my colleague time I’ve enjoyed planning low-cost trips with my friends. We bought cheap flight tickets, rent a car at our destination country and tried to know most of the country in couple of days.

We could choose between booking hotel or saving money, time and rather buy more beer, gasoline and sleep at beach, car or anywhere outside. Saving on hotels is not a big deal. Especially when you’re young, you can sleep well basically anywhere.

But eventually, you still need to take shower somewhere. And booking hotels just because of shower is killing flies with hammer.

We thought truck drivers take showers somewhere too, so it must be easy. Quick google search revealed how wrong we were.

Few weeks ago a shower in my rented flat in Germany started leaking. Who spend some time in Germany knows that there everything goes kinda … slow. My shower wasn’t exception and after removing I was told that plumbers will stop by one week later.

Once again I had to find place where to take shower. Google misunderstood me and showed me shops with showers and bathrooms stuff instead.

I said enough and started to build database of public showers on my own.

First I started with gas stations because I knew truck drivers use them. I chose several most popular and hit their websites. Luckily the big brands provide stations locators and some of them even support filtering by amenities. I wrote script to fetch and save showers into my database.

When I reached cca 800 places with showers I stopped fetching and started to focus how to put them on the map.

I made quick and simple website mock-up, code it, bought domain and deploy it.

My first intent was to build just database of showers what can be seen from the following mock-up.

Mockup of the first version aimed only on showers and their ratings

Later I realized I can extend my audience by hitchhikers, backpackers, travelers and basically anybody who live on the go.

I’ve started to build more complex map aimed for travelers.

Mock-up of second version

In future I plan to add on the map laundry services, hitchhiking spots, camping spots and seasonal work.

For time being people can submit new spots via this Typeform which I added on the website.

Checkout the map and let me know what do you think in comments. :)